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Bringing Home The Bacon

Selling is the most important function that takes place in North America on any given day. In fact, the U.S. Department of Commerce states that 92 percent of the GNP is created when someone sells something to someone else. No products are manufactured, no deliveries are made, and no one gets paid until someone sells something!So in this, our annual salute to sales, we highlight the distributors who are succeeding, despite the odds. Distributors and Manufacturers have figured out what is required to make it in this new economy. And it is a new economy. They are working together with a new awareness, trusting and relying on each other, and reacting quickly to every sales opportunity, regardless of how small or how big. Together, they’re making sales happen.

In his column on page 9, MHEDA President Jim Bowes says, “He who walks with the wise, grows wise.” Spend some time walking with MHEDA’s wise members, because there are some tips in these Stories of Sales Success. Jim Bowes also says, “It’s about results.” Well it is, and we discuss those results too.

And in case you are still lamenting the economic woes, a poll of past MHEDA presidents, including Michael Romano (2002), Ken MacDonald (2001) and Tim Hilton (2000), provided some valuable advice. Dust off your copy of Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking. During the years they were president, they referred to the book as “the original” and “the mother of all motivational books.”

To view a particular company, click their name below, or scroll down through the article.
Alta Lift Truck Services Inc. Hytrol of California BMH
Applied Handling Inc. Integrated Storage Solutions Inc.
Beckwith Machinery Company K-Lift Material Handling Equipment Co.
Bohnert Equipment Company Inc. Levee Lift Inc.
Container Systems Inc. Malin Integrated Handling Solutions and Design
Delta Materials Handling Inc. Maybury Material Handling
Dougherty Equipment Company Progressive Handling Systems Inc.
FloStor Engineering Inc. (1) Quality Lift Trucks
FloStor Engineering Inc. (2) Scott Lift Truck Corporation
Forklifts of Toledo (branch of Towlift, Inc.) Southline Equipment Co.
Greene Enterprises Material Handling Storage Equipment Inc.
Gulf Atlantic Material Handling Inc. Tennessee Distributor
Hoj Engineering & Sales Co., Inc. Toyota Material Handling Northern California
Hyster New England Inc. Warner Specialty Products Inc.
Hyster Sales Company  

 Storage Equipment Offers Mayo Clinic the Right Prescription

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is one of the world’s foremost medical centers. It is only fitting, then, that when they needed to expand a Wildeck mezzanine system used for storing patient records and X-rays, they relied on Storage Equipment (Minneapolis, MN).

Summary: Comprehensive proposal and partnering relationship result in custom engineered mezzanine for quality conscious end-user.
Distributor: Storage Equipment Inc.
Manufacturer: Wildeck

When the contractor for the Mayo Clinic contacted Wildeck, Inc. about the project, the manufacturer referred them to Storage Equipment, confident that the distributor had the expertise to do the job right. President Michael Dubbs explains, “The task was to expand an existing mezzanine system that had been installed by a different dealer, and previously expanded by yet another. This third stage of the project was the largest yet.” Dubbs worked with Wildeck’s Inside Sales Manager Larry Rust, Regional Sales Manager Scott Dachel, Director of Mezzanine Engineering Mark Brooks and Graduate Engineer Wes Zawlocki to provide a system that would suit the Mayo Clinic’s high standards of quality and service.

The comprehensive proposal provided by Storage Equipment was a key to selling the project, together with the willingness of distributor and manufacturer personnel to call on the customer together.

Wildeck’s C-section expansion

Wildeck’s C-section design expanded an existing mezzanine and cut lead time in half.

Storage Equipment had a tight timeframe on one portion of the project, which originally was quoted using a beam and bar joist system. However, Dubbs’s team determined that a C-section system would work just as well. The advantage was that the C-section system was manufactured by Wildeck, whereas the bar joists for the beam and bar joist would need to be purchased from another vendor. The change in design cut the lead time in half, allowing Storage Equipment to complete the $100,000+ project on time. “It was a fun project,” says Dubbs, “and it just goes to demonstrate that when a distributor and a manufacturer are able to partner, some very neat things can be accomplished.”

 Give Me a T! M! H! N! C!
What Have You Got? Success!

As the 2003 football season approached, the Oakland Raiders made plans to open a new 26,000 square foot distribution center located in San Leandro, California. The new distribution center was to service the Raider Image retail stores and e-commerce sales. The Oakland Raiders knew what to expect when they passed the ball to Toyota Material Handling Northern California’s (Hayward, CA) Systems Group Manager Larry Goodall and Engineer John Andaloft. The distributor had provided the Raiders with forklifts and carriers in the past, and was confident they had the expertise needed to create a win/win situation.

Summary: A complete system made up of rack, conveyor, decking and trucks was installed in less than two months.
Distributor: Toyota Material Handling Northern California
Manufacturer: ITC Manufacturing & Powder Coating, Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A, Ermanco, Interlake Material Handling Solutions

The distributor duo not only provided the necessary material handling systems, but all of the required upgrades for the permit process, including fire code compliance and structural engineering to meet California’s strict codes for earthquake protection. The distribution center was outfitted with a range of material handling equipment, including flow rack and pallet rack from Interlake Material Handling Solutions, an Ermanco conveyor system, wire mesh decking from ITC Manufacturing and two Toyota lift trucks. To match the Raiders’ signature colors, everything was painted silver and black.

toyota equipment painted silver and black

All material handling equipment and systems are painted in the team colors of silver and black.

“The distribution center needed to be up and running by mid-September,” says Goodall, so the project which was first discussed in April was put on a fast track. Implementation of the $300,000 project started in July and finished in early September, proving that TMHNC has what it takes to be a major player from kickoff to the final pass.

 Delta Helps Helmet House Find Second Home

Helmet House, a California distributor of motorcycle and power sports equipment helmets, opened a new distribution center in Memphis last fall to better serve customers east of the Mississippi River, nearly half of its customer base. The company wanted nationwide two-day ground delivery, and determined that the city’s access to FedEx and UPS would accomplish this goal.

Summary: Knowing who the new players are gives distributor a leg up on the competition.
Distributor: Delta Materials Handling Inc.
Manufacturer: Steel King Industries, BestFlex, Western Pacific Storage System

Last summer, with the help of The Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce, representatives from Helmet House met with Delta Materials Handling (Memphis, TN) to plan the new 60,000 sq. ft. space.

Delta Sales Representative Charlie Goodfellow handles all new business coming in to Memphis, and he keeps his ear to the ground on new companies. Goodfellow describes Delta as “one of the few material handling companies in Tennessee capable of doing a turnkey job” and calls these turnkey jobs a niche for the material handling company.

Steel King pallet rack and wire decking

Steel King pallet rack and wire decking are placed throughout this 60,000 sq. ft. warehouse.

Delta furnished Helmet House with Steel King pallet rack and wire decking, outfitting the warehouse with 222 storage bays. Also installed were 120 sections of RiveTier double rivet bulk shelving, two security gates for the dock doors, BestFlex expandable skate wheel conveyors, and work stations.

The distribution facility opened in October 2002, enabling Helmet House to serve more customers throughout the country with faster delivery, increased inventory and higher fill rates.

FloStor Engineering Is a Sure Bet

Summary: In a competitive market, good price + high quality is a distributor’s answer to prayer.
Distributor: FloStor Engineering Inc.
Manufacturer: Southworth Products Corp., Hytrol Conveyor Company

International Game Technology (IGT) of Reno, Nevada, is in the business of manufacturing gaming equipment and the business is booming! In fact, the company boasts of providing 75 percent of the slot machines manufactured in the U.S. Still, when it comes to an expansion of their assembly line, the IGT management team refuses to gamble. During the past eight years, FloStor Engineering (Hayward, CA) has successfully completed nine assembly line projects for IGT.

Dave Rebata, FloStor’s vice president of operations, says that a team effort incorporating the talents of Hytrol Conveyor Co. and Southworth Products helped to make this $500,000 assembly line expansion project a winner.

Hytrol conveyor and Southworth lifts

The combination of Hytrol conveyor and Southworth lifts allows slot machines to be raised and lowered to facilitate assembly.

The assembly system was an add-on line of approximately 100 feet to IGT’s existing assembly line. The Hytrol E-Z Logic product is utilized for the finalizing area, which is a test area, and includes chain and skate wheel transfers that feed and discharge from the test areas.

Although FloStor had previously specified another company’s scissors lifts, they were pleased with the level of service and quality of product provided by Southworth’s Jeff Geissler, western regional manager. Rebata says, “This is the reality of the market right now. Everything has to be very competitive. Southworth came in as an alternative, and ended up the front runner. They met the design criteria and their pricing was competitive. The level of service provided was excellent from start to finish. I never felt like I was left on my own with regard to their product.”

The entire project, beginning with the day the quote was requested until it was fully operational, took two months.

The Price is Right with Beckwith

Summary: Master sales skills, along with product support, convince customer.
Distributor: Beckwith Machinery Company
Manufacturer: EnerSys

Price objections are the norm these days. More troubling to salespeople, though, are buyers who look only at price, not quality, not service, just price. However, Tom Diable, sales representative for Beckwith Machinery Company (N. Versailles, PA), was prepared for all customer objections.

Exide Deserthog battery brings longer life to forklifts

The Exide Deserthog battery brings new, longer life to these forklifts.

Sony Logistics in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, had been using what another supplier called “low maintenance batteries” and they were skeptical when Diable explained his product. “They wanted to focus on price alone, but their interest sparked when I guaranteed that the Exide Deserthog battery with Power Maxx would not let them down.” Working with EnerSys General Manager Todd Sechrist and District Manager Chad Aplinger, Diable promoted the EnerSys C.O.P. buy-back program, which gave the option of new batteries at the end of two years. To sweeten the music, the team explained the EnerSys Power Maxx, a virtual maintenance-free battery with proven wet battery performance, perfect for Sony’s conditions. And in case they still didn’t believe, there was that guaranteed buy-back program. How could they resist? Diable’s skills and the Exide battery made the Sony team think about more than price.

Last March, Sony purchased 36 batteries. The cost? Close to $200,000, but it didn’t matter when put against the quality and service provided by the Beckwith/EnerSys team.

Scott Lift Truck Goes Bi-Lingual to Strengthen Partnership

We’ve all heard the phrases “relations sell” and “people buy from people,” and we know they’re pretty accurate for our industry. Recently, Scott Lift Truck (Elk Grove Village, IL) found out that it also takes a little s’il vous plaît and merci to make a sale. Comprenez-vous?

Summary: Working against price-only decision makers located in France, pro-active communication marks distributor a step above competitors.
Distributor: Scott Lift Truck Corporation
Manufacturer: Komatsu Forklift USA

Scott Lift Truck was pre-qualified to bid for the lease renewal of lift trucks at Air France Cargo located at O’Hare International Airport. Three potential suppliers were allowed 45 minutes each to meet with the general manager at O’Hare, as well as two corporate buyers from Paris, France.

After the customary business card swap, Scott Lift Truck’s General Manager Loren Swakow and Sales Manager Scott Swakow were allowed a few minutes to discuss their company and how it would benefit Air France to choose Scott Lift Truck. The two buyers, though, were primarily interested in the monthly cost per unit. This was discussed at length and used up most of the available time allotted. Due to the language barriers, discussion required the use of general terms. Although the buyers spoke some English, they were definitely more comfortable speaking French.

It was determined by the general manager that the three vendors and their particular brand of lift trucks could equally perform for the customer. There was no way to differentiate the companies in such a short period of time, yet that was the customer’s preferred way to expedite the leasing of a new fleet of trucks. The decision would be made in Paris the following week.

Upon returning to the office, Loren Swakow decided to send an e-mail to the Paris buyers thanking them for their time and telling them Scott Lift Truck was looking forward to a mutually beneficial partnership. Realizing they were more comfortable in their own language, Loren contacted fellow MHEDA member Gary Bang at LPM. Loren remembered that Gary spoke French and wanted to have his e-mail translated into French prior to sending. Bang responded via e-mail, which was then pasted to the outgoing e-mail from Scott Lift Truck. Scott Lift Truck wanted to develop any type of discourse with the potential customer. Time differences and language barriers needed to be overcome. They were not willing to let the deal hinge on price only.

Komatsu FG25T-12

A Komatsu FG25T-12 at work in O’Hare’s Air France Cargo depot.

The next morning, the Swakows found a return e-mail from the Paris buyer thanking Scott Lift Truck for their time. There was also a minor question about the proposed lease. Scott Swakow responded with ways to accommodate their request. Komatsu agreed to help with pricing. An electronic dialog ensued via e-mail. Delivery schedules were discussed, lease papers were negotiated, and slowly, Scott Swakow was able to build a relationship with the buyer. Albeit long distance, he knew that any relationship could put their name at the forefront.

Voilà! The following week, Scott Lift Truck was awarded an order for nine Komatsu FG25T-12 lift trucks.

Gulf Atlantic Material Handling Follows Textile Plants Offshore

Talk about bringing all your knowledge and experience to the table. Mark Dragich, president of Gulf Atlantic Material Handling (Fort Myers, FL), used to live in the Carolinas, and as he traveled on sales calls throughout the region, he got to know the textile business pretty well. Like others, he was sorry to see many of the manufacturing plants leave the area to go offshore. Not one to miss an opportunity, Dragich knew that these plants still needed equipment, regardless of where they were located. He pursued this offshore market, getting in touch with Americans working offshore as consultants, sharing their knowledge of engineering, dyeing and finishing.

Summary: Distributor pursues off-shore market, gets specs, and then searches for product to meet them.
Distributor: Gulf Atlantic Material Handling Inc.
Manufacturer: Bonar Plastics, AWP Industries

It was through one of these contacts that Dragich learned of a textile plant located in Honduras that had need for rotationally molded containers with a two-way pallet base. Communicating by e-mail, Dragich got the specs down and then went on a search for a product to meet them. He narrowed it down to three possible sources, and then one…Bonar Plastics of Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. Bonar made a container sample and Dragich shipped it to the textile plant in Honduras. He also shipped four test samples of AWP Indusrties’ wire mesh decking.

The textile plant ordered 1,000 low-density polyethylene containers, along with 1,200 pieces of wire mesh decking to store it on. The order was packed into 15 sea containers that took less than a week to arrive. Says Dragich, “Forget about that slow boat to China story.” The textile company has its own freight forwarder in Miami, which speeded up the process.

Dragich hopes the sale will open doors to international markets for his company. Imprinted on each of the 1,000 containers are the words: “Distributed by Gulf Atlantic Material Handling, Ft. Myers, Florida,” with a phone and fax number.

Forklifts of Toledo Goes High Voltage

Summary: Distributor’s product knowledge, confidence and credibility assure customer that problem will be solved.
Distributor: Forklifts of Toledo (branch of Towlift Inc.)
Manufacturer: Linde Lift Truck Corp.

Forklifts of Toledo decided to start recommending the Linde 80V electrics to potential customers who currently utilized propane units and/or to those who needed more power and longer running times than their existing electric units could provide. Metal Forming was the first customer quoted an 80V. The company was hesitant about acquiring battery-powered forklifts for many reasons: unfamiliarity with electric units, lack of power, and the inability to run a unit for two shifts per charge. Metal Forming assumed that purchasing electric units would be a “pie in the sky” venture and subsequently dismissed the idea…until they met Chris Fordham, account manager for Forklifts of Toledo, a branch of Towlift Inc. (Cleveland, OH).

E30P used to stack bins

Metal Forming is using an E30P to stack bins of heat-treated engine parts.

Three years ago, Fordham introduced the concept of the 80V truck. After assuring the customer they would get at least 12 hours per charge, Metal Forming issued a purchase order for their first 80V electric to be used as the “experiment,” used to shuttle stacked bins of stampings from one end of the plant to another. They have ordered several more in the past year.

Fordham is not shy about recommending the Linde 336 series. He says some people are afraid customers dismiss it as too European or experimental for the U.S. market, but Fordham found the opposite to be true at Metal Forming. “I explained that the only difference between an 80V battery and a 36V or 48V is the number of cells. It became simple to sell when the customer realized he had long run time per charge.”

Hoj Provides Necessary Storage…Stat!

Summary: Sale of non-filing mobile aisle storage systems rewards long-term relationship.
Distributor: Hoj Engineering & Sales Co., Inc.
Manufacturer: Equipto

As hospitals all over the country attempt to control costs and do more with less, the University of Utah Hospital’s Surgical Processing department was running out of space for storage of surgical kits and supplies. The facility director of the hospital knew from past experience that Hoj Engineering & Sales Co. (Salt Lake City, UT) would provide the solution they were looking for. Tim Hoj, sales manager, and Equipto’s Kevin Wolf, regional director of sales, had previously installed a total of six mobile aisle storage systems for maintenance and parts storage, and operating room staging kit storage in various hospital locations. The completion of a $33,000 system in August 2002 has facilitated more efficient storage. The two Mobile Aisle storage systems provide the Surgical Processing department with a system that integrates shelving, modular drawers and solid/wire shelving and addresses a variety of storage needs.

Equipto’s mobile aisle storage system

Equipto’s mobile aisle storage system solves space problem for hospital.

Hoj comments, “As a growing hospital, they’re just out of room. Now the hospital can store more SKUs utilizing no additional floor space.” The design, which includes wire shelving that prevents dust from settling, was the perfect fix to a high-profile challenge. Best of all, Hoj Engineering & Sales looks forward to maintaining a very healthy relationship with the University of Utah Hospital.

Maybury Material Handling Provides
Disaster Relief and Recovery

Summary: After fire destroys facility, distributor and manufacturer-partners come to the rescue to equip temporary replacement plus new 200,000 sq. ft. distribution centers.
Distributor: Maybury Material Handling
Manufacturer: Interlake Material Handling Solutions, Crown Equipment Corporation

Founded in 1962, North American Marketing Company (NAMCO) of Manchester, Connecticut, has grown to be one of America’s largest swimming pool and accessories dealers. A 20-year customer of Maybury Material Handling (East Longmeadow, MA), NAMCO knew that it could count on President John Maybury and Account Managers Bill Wise and Chris Nagle when disaster struck.

A devastating explosion and chemical fire caused extensive damage to NAMCO’s distribution center. Maybury’s Allan Sonoda, material handling operations manager, and Jay Mercadante, engineering and fabrication manager, worked closely with Interlake Material Handling Solutions to facilitate a smooth disaster recovery operation and the rebuilding process. John Maybury says, “The decision to rebuild on the existing site provided our customer with many challenges, not the least of which was working from an off-site location during the reconstruction and building reconfigurations.”

DURING: Early stages of construction.

DURING: Early stages of constructio

Maybury Material Handling not only provided the products NAMCO required in its off-site, rented location, but, together with Interlake Material Handling Solutions and Crown Equipment Corporation, equipped the new 200,000 sq. ft. distribution center.

The efficient team was able to help Maybury’s customer move into its fully operational facility in less than a year after the fire. Maybury explains, “We offered NAMCO several options, including the use of double deep reach trucks in a portion of the facility. We also utilized selective double deep rack, selective rack and drive-in rack, increasing the number of storage locations and cubes by more than 33 percent.”

AFTER: Interlake racking stands ready in new 200,000 sq. ft. distribution center.

AFTER: Interlake racking stands ready in new 200,000 sq. ft. distribution center.

Bohnert Helps Manufacturer Bend and Twist

A manufacturer of equipment for the automotive industry has been putting together technologically advanced components for years. The process of assembling them, though, left much to be desired. Known as a critical, cost-conscious customer, Todd Sparrow, account manager for Bohnert Equipment Company (Louisville, KY), and John Crush, Bohnert’s engineered products division sales manager, knew they had their work cut out for them when they saw the manufacturer’s process.

Summary: A solution to a jumbled manufacturing process requires redesigns and refined schedules.
Distributor: Bohnert Equipment Company Inc.
Manufacturer: AWP Industries

Crush explains, “Every 25 to 30 seconds, nine pieces of product come down the line. Two workers on either side of the line stack the products and place them into a container.” Crush and Sparrow figured that if they could provide a tool to pick up the nine pieces at a time and a box to stack them in, the line workers would have more time to inspect the product.

The men called on Dale Stuban, general manager of AWP Industries, for assistance. AWP’s Mike Portwood, engineering manager, and Carl Doolin, design engineer, came through with a variety of design concepts.

Several prototypes were developed, and after many design modifications, the team came up with what they are calling an “intelligent lifting device” using an overhead crane capable of lifting 250 to 275 pounds with just the squeeze of a handle. A rigid wire mesh container with bi-directional conveyability work in conjunction with an end-affector system. Says Crush, “In addition to speeding up the process and providing more time for inspection of the product, this system is much better ergonomically. The operators don’t have to bend and twist when they stack the product.”

The delivery schedule was continually compressed while the end-user looked at prototypes and redesigns. AWP, however, was committed to making it work within the time period, and continued to refine the schedule.

It took nine weeks, and the over $176,000 sale was completed in June 2003.

Hytrol of California BMH Develops Simple, Effective System

After Bill Fish, sales rep from Hytrol of California BMH, did a system for a dot-com company in Los Angeles that sells computer peripherals and software, the company determined that a third of its business was coming from the East Coast. To make shipping faster and less expensive for their customers, the company decided to open a warehouse in New Jersey. The East Coast warehouse, though, would be about 20,000 sq. ft. larger, for a total of 52,000 sq. ft.

Summary: Application engineering devises recirculating closed loop, overhead line.
Distributor: Hytrol of California BMH
Manufacturer: Pacline Overhead Conveyors, Hytrol Conveyor Company

The system included Hytrol conveyor, controls and pallet rack through the entire facility. Fish describes what he does as application engineering. “I piece it all together, take suppliers’ hardware and figure out what works.” Fish also says he’s good at packing ten pounds into a five pound box, a skill that came in handy when figuring out what to do with the overhead line.

Working with Pacline Conveyor’s Paul Geddes, Fish determined that a 770-feet long closed loop overhead conveyor would make the process easier and faster for the company’s employees. The track handles the empty boxes for the customer’s order boxes. Once the packing box is pulled and material is put into it, the box moves down to a check station. As the order SKUs are pulled out of the flow rack, the box is pushed onto the main line, then travels down to the QC check line.

The overhead conveyor line is in the picking area and also acts as an order return to the picking area, setting and recirculating all day long. The operator doesn’t wait very long for the proper box to come by, and as the picker removes the boxes, replenishing people are adding new boxes. Fish calls it a very simple and effective system.

The entire project cost over $500,000 and was finished at the end of July, after only six weeks. Fish attributes the smooth sailing of this project to his own experience, as well as the assistance of his vendors, Pacline and Hytrol.

Utilization Increases with Hyster New England

Summary: Redesigning rack layout into narrow aisles doubles stored pallet positions.
Distributor: Hyster New England Inc.
Manufacturer: Landoll Corporation

International Paper of Framingham, Massachusetts, wanted to move from an off-site warehouse without having to construct an addition to its 25,000 sq. ft. existing facility. They wanted to operate in narrow aisles for greater space utilization, and needed to use the same equipment for loading and unloading trailers.


Bendi articulating forklift

A Bendi articulating forklift enables expansion in existing warehouse.

Paul Venini, sales representative for Hyster New England (North Billerica, MA), knows the value of consultative selling and immediately focused on providing a solution for his customer. After teaming up with Ed Campbell, sales manager for Landoll Corp., Venini provided the customer with four Bendi narrow-aisle 180 degree articulating forklifts.

Venini was able to help his customer move approximately 750 pallet positions from the off-site warehouse space into their existing building, effectively doubling the stored pallet positions. The existing 12-feet wide aisles were redesigned and are now 7-feet wide. The redesign also utilized 2-deep push back racks. Best of all? Venini was able to meet his customer’s needs during the transition period with rental equipment provided by Hyster New England.

The approximately $200,000 project was completed in May of this year.

Levee Lift Listens, Hears and Communicates

Dutch Breuklander, operations manager for Levee Lift (Evansville, IN), has been selling heavy equipment to Alcoa of Evansville for several years. He was making a routine sales call when he overheard someone comment that he wished he could find a four-wheeled personnel carrier. Breuklander contacted Columbia Par Car with his customer’s specifications and eventually a prototype was created.

Summary: Careful study of application and clear communication of requirements result in design that works.
Distributor: Levee Lift Inc.
Manufacturer: Columbia Par Car Corporation

The sale of personnel carriers to Alcoa has proven the importance of communication skills when practiced by the distributor, the manufacturer and the customer. The successful design and delivery of custom-designed personnel carriers proves what can happen when the emphasis is on communication as opposed to simply “selling equipment.”

Alcoa’s requirements included a small, four-wheel, two passenger, electric vehicle capable of operating in a narrow-aisle environment. Maneuverability was essential.

Columbia Par Car’s Scott Breckley, vice president of sales and marketing, notes, “Breuklander studied the application and customer requirements extensively. He paid special attention to understanding how the equipment formerly used by the customer no longer met their requirements.”


Columbia Par Car’s four-wheel, two passenger, electric vehicle

Columbia Par Car’s four-wheel, two passenger, electric vehicle can operate in a narrow-aisle environment.

Ward Utterback, regional sales manager, adds, “After studying the application and equipment, Breuklander was able to communicate the project and vehicle requirements to our team. He brought two of Alcoa’s key executives to our facility and, after a review of the preliminary design, more changes were instituted.”

While the initial sale was limited to just five Model EX21-F and four-wheel expediters which were customized to meet Alcoa’s requirements, additional vehicles have been ordered and the sale is ongoing. In fact, Alcoa has made each of the $4,000 units standard in various plants across the country, all to Levee Lift and Dutch Breuklander’s credit.

GM In Sync with Applied Handling

Tim Perry, account manager at Applied Handling (Dearborn, MI), already had some equipment at General Motors’ powertrain plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He still was surprised when Greg Lerdahl, territory manager for Starrco Company, contacted him. Starrco received a call from a consultant who works with the GM plant on a regular basis. The consultant was not a material handling consultant, but he wanted information for a modular building at the plant. Lerdahl quickly determined that the project was more complex than the consultant could handle and suggested Applied Handling for the job, because, says Lerdahl, “This is their core business,” leaving the consultant to concentrate on his own core business with GM.

Summary: Three-column roof structure provides flexibility for workstation placement.
Distributor: Applied Handling Inc.
Manufacturer: Starrco Company

Perry and Lerdahl visited the plant, and since Applied Handling already had credibility with the customer, it was an easy sell. However, to the uninitiated, it may not have appeared that easy. GM didn’t want conventional construction, and required a faster installation, using their own employees.

Applied Handling and Starrco made it look easy when a 54 ft. x 58 ft. in-plant office housing 40 workstations with guard rail to go around it was delivered. Despite the large footprint, Starrco’s VP of Manufacturing Daryl Carlson was able to provide a roof structure that required only three columns. Says Perry, “They wanted as much flexibility as possible in the design and placement of their workstations, noting that they could be moved for future projects.” The $70,000 plus project was completed in early May.

Greene Enterprises Ropes in Rodeo Sale

West Coast Turf was in the market to begin retirement of a fleet of 30 truck-mounted forklifts, all manufactured in-house by their own mechanics. Good cowboys all, West Coast Turf’s management team decided the best way to simultaneously view all of the major manufacturers’ products was to host a rodeo. Greene Enterprises Material Handling (Tucson, AZ) accepted the challenge. Don Swisher, sales associate, and his sales manager, Rob Stress, devised a plan of action, assuring his company of not only winning the rodeo, but also winning the sale.

Summary: Strategy works in price-sensitive market.
Distributor: Greene Enterprises Material Handling
Manufacturer: Tailift USA, Inc.

Navigator’s John Gregory saw the potential for a successful partnership with Greene Enterprises and boarded a plane headed for the truck-mounted rodeo demonstration. Lending years of sales experience in the Arizona market, Jeff Fisher, national sales manager for Tailift USA, loaded the stock demonstration unit and agreed to meet the others at the rodeo.

The next part of the plan included positioning themselves to be the last company to demonstrate their product’s features and benefits. As the afternoon progressed, Navigator’s RT4000 found itself locked in a battle with a competitive product, which happened to be priced several thousand dollars less than the RT4000.

Rob Stress and Don Swisher

Greene Enterprises’ Sales Manager Rob Stress (left) and Sales Associate Don Swisher in front of Tailift’s Navigator RT4000

The Navigator RT4000 survived the final cut and was invited to participate in a demonstration at West Coast Turf’s Palm Desert, California, headquarters. In February 2003, Greene Enterprises was awarded the first order for two units for $64,000. Today they have orders for eight more, pending corporate approval.

By the way, the Navigator RT4000 was the most expensive product demonstrated. The end-user perceived the value of the product and service and in this price-sensitive economy, was willing to spend more for increased value.

Malin Integrated Handling Solutions and Design Meets
Survival Challenges

In today’s market, no customer can be taken for granted. Rob Purdy, major account manager for Malin Integrated Handling Solutions and Design (Addison, TX), knows this well. A regular customer of his in Lafayette, Louisiana, needed tow carts to put pallets on to fill picking orders. While the cart is being pulled around, three standard-size pallets are picked at a time.

Summary: Forget the competitors. Keep your eye on what you know…your relationship with supplier and product.
Distributor: Malin Integrated Handling Solutions and Design
Manufacturer: Faultless-Nutting Division

The challenge was the customer’s friends, which included two of Malin’s competitors. Not one to lose a challenge or a sale, Purdy knew the heavy duty towable carts from Faultless-Nutting Division put him at the top of the list. The carts had swivel caster steering, steel frames, wood decks and automatic couplers.

Then the customer threw in another challenge: “Need them quick.” And then another: “Price better be right.” Purdy never looked around at the competition. Instead, he looked to Matt Olson, Faultless-Nutting’s national sales manager. He found out where he needed to be from a pricing standpoint, and guaranteed the customer 1) he could give them competitive pricing, and 2) he’d make the lead time.

Purdy acknowledges, “There’s a significant amount of trust that has to take place between the supplier and the manufacturer, and the factory worked with us to get the lead time.”

Purdy says he doesn’t know exactly how they did it at Faultless-Nutting behind the scenes, but they delivered 150 carts exactly when promised. In this game of survivor, two were left standing…Malin and Faultless-Nutting.

Quality Lift Bubbles Over

Watkins Manufacturing is the world’s leading manufacturer of portable spas. Sold under several names through a global network of over 850 dealers and service centers, the company has sold more than 100,000 spas and more than a million aftermarket supplies during the last 25 years. Watkins’ spa sales increase at the rate of eight percent a year.

Summary: Offering advice and good pricing shows long-time customer that distributor has their best interests in mind.
Distributor: Quality Lift Trucks
Manufacturer: Jungheinrich Lift Truck Corp.

A 20-year customer of Quality Lift Trucks (Chula Vista, CA), Watkins recently moved into a 110,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility to keep up with the demand. Watkins processes more than 2,000 orders per day, receiving either crated parts or full pallet loads from the incoming inspection area during the first shift. The second shift pulls the material needed for the next day’s production. Two production lines handle all of the production demands.

The production warehouse racking system has more than 700 pick locations and the forklifts are kept busy stocking and replenishing the warehouse. Approximately 85 percent of the production items are stored in the racking system, while others are stored on the floor.

Quality’s President Dennis Hines and Sales Manager Jim Turbyfill helped Watkins create an efficient storage and retrieval system in the production warehouse, utilizing a man-up order picking/stacking forklift that allows the operator to ride along with the forks to accurately store pallet loads and easily fill production orders.

Jungheinrich’s ETX-Kombi lift truck

Jungheinrich’s ETX-Kombi lift truck serves dual purpose of pallet storage and order picking in narrow aisles.

“Watkins knows we have their best interests in mind,” says Quality’s Turbyfill. “If you have a 20-year relationship with a customer, you know that the best way to retain that customer is to offer advice and pricing and everything else that’s in their best interest, because if it’s in their best interest, they are profitable, they get bigger, and they purchase more forklifts.”

Turbyfill and Hines knew that the Jungheinrich ETX-Kombi AC lift truck would be perfect for Watkins’ needs. The truck’s man-up feature allows the operator to ride up with the forks, guaranteeing that loads are stored and retrieved properly. The trucks also come in handy for daily cycle counts. Every night, operators physically count each item in the warehouse. Without the man-up feature, each operator would have to pull the parts from storage, count them, and then re-store them. Now the operator simply elevates himself to the desired level and counts the parts.

The ability of the trucks to pick up and store pallets or crated parts from either side of the truck also allow flexibility in the design of the narrow aisle system, resulting in better use of the overall storage cube. This one truck gave Watkins the ability to receive orders in the morning and put full pallets up, and then order pick in the afternoon for their own shipments to send out to their dealers around the world.

FloStor Toasts Modified Cart Design for Winery Transport

Summary: Customer input creates perfect design solution.
Distributor: FloStor Engineering Inc.
Manufacturer: Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co.

A California winery had been using the same fleet of carts for the transporting of glass bottles for 20 years. Though satisfied with the carts, the winery’s management team believed modifications were in order. FloStor Engineering (Hayward, CA) partnered with the winery to create the carts that transport the bottles from one location to another. To complete the partnering effort, Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co.’s Bob Latimer, sales executive, Floyd Davis, shop team leader, and John Yater, designer, worked to fabricate the perfect carts for the application.

FloStor’s Vice President Dave Rebata, Project Manager John Andrews and Design Technician Keith Hiyama worked closely with the winery’s facility director, maintenance manager, maintenance supervisor and mechanic to create a true collaborative effort. The team met regularly throughout the process, tweaking and modifying the prototype which was eventually purchased.

Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co. cart

This Hamilton Caster & Mfg. Co. cart replaced the customer’s 20-year-old in-house modified carts to transport and convey glass bottles.

“We were able to win the business because of our willingness to spend the time to create a prototype which would specifically meet the customer’s requirements,” says Hiyama. For years, the winery had been modifying carts to move the product. Hiyama explains, “Our customer knew the make-up of the existing cart very well. They also understood what was needed in order to meet their objectives.” The glass bottles were transported from a bottle manufacturing facility a quarter of a mile away, loaded onto the carts and then delivered to palletizers. Conveyors which are installed on the carts automatically move the bottles to a pallet. The driver never needs to leave his tugger.

Since delivering the prototype, FloStor has delivered nine additional carts and plans to deliver five more within the next six months.

Southline Equipment Cleans Up

Houston Intercontinental Airport needed scrubbers, and put out an RFQ. Tim Wells, who at the time was a division manager at Southline Equipment Co. (Houston, TX), describes the bid process as limiting. “They wanted what they were calling the ‘most productive’ machine, so they dialed into their specs a bigger tank capacity, thereby eliminating several of the bids, including American-Lincoln’s 9772 tractor scrubbers.” Of course, the Southline team knew that bigger isn’t always better, and set out to convince airport management.

Summary: Refusing to be eliminated because of narrowly written bid specs, distributor convinces customer to look at other factors.
Distributor: Southline Equipment Co.
Manufacturer: American-Lincoln

American-Lincoln’s Gray Huey, regional sales manager, joined Wells to visit the airport, survey their needs, and convince airport management that their machine should be considered. Wells says, “By pointing out that there were more factors to consider besides tank size when measuring productivity, we were able to convince the airport’s management team that our scrubber was more versatile and would be more productive in the long run.”

The duo succeeded, ringing up a $139,000 sale, and delivered two American-Lincoln 9772 tractor scrubbers in March of this year.

Hyster Sales Company Goes into Cold Storage

Depending on the time of year, lift trucks at Henningsen Cold Storage Co. in Twin Falls, Idaho, can go from 90 degrees out on the loading dock to below freezing inside the warehouse in an instant. This change from one temperature extreme to the other creates a need for adaptations to keep the trucks running well. That’s why Henningsen has been with Hyster Sales Company (Eugene, OR) for more than 25 years. Sales Representative Dennis Scheid is able to provide lift trucks to meet his customer’s very specific needs, including a freezer corrosion package.

Summary: Modifications are made to lift trucks to adapt to customer’s requirements.
Distributor: Hyster Sales Company
Manufacturer: Hyster Company, Cascade Corporation

Scheid says this ability to provide what the customer needs is part of what keeps Henningsen running smoothly. “We try to make the modifications prior to the operators getting the trucks so they spend less time getting used to them.” Scheid believes versatility from the factory is a great advantage.

Over the past year, Henningsen purchased eight Hyster E50 trucks, four to be used for loading and unloading trucks on low-lift docks, and four for storage and retrieval of products in a high-lift storage application. Once the trucks are received, Hyster Sales Company sets about modifying them.

A special attachment was needed for the dock lifts. Steve Gilgus, a territory manager at Cascade Corporation, went with Scheid to Henningsen’s plant to spec out an attachment that would work. It took extensive research and time to get the actual attachment to run at the speed required to perform the work.


Hyster E50

Being in the freezer doesn’t stop this Hyster E50 with its special freezer corrosion package.

Karl Meininger, sales manager at the distributor’s Portland branch, points to some of the special considerations. “We were trying to replace counterbalance trucks, so rather than low battery consumption, we had to set the trucks for high performance in both traction and hydraulics.” The push pulls also have a special cylinder and a special valve from Cascade that work with high speed and have plenty of power to move the product. Henningsen’s drive-in racking requires that the width of the drive tires and fenders be customized. This was accomplished with the help of Hyster’s design engineers. Meininger notes that the truck’s counter weight also had to be customized to compensate for the special tread width.

It took a total of 14 weeks to complete the modifications. The wait was worth it to the customer when the new trucks—perfect for the application—were added to Henningsen’s fleet.

Progressive Handling Systems Proves
Aesthetics and Efficiency Work

A New Jersey-based defense contractor chose Progressive Handling Systems (Rockaway, NJ) to design and install an assembly line workstation which supported U.S. troops in Iraq. After interviewing several other companies, including one that the defense contractor had previously worked with for many years, the defense contractor made its decision upon inspecting a workstation built to its specifications displayed at Progressive Handling’s facility.

Summary: Soliciting feedback of live model assures customer satisfaction.
Distributor: Progressive Handling Systems Inc.
Manufacturer: Production Basics Inc.

According to Progressive Handling’s Vice President John Cosgrove, “Production Basics was able to custom-build a workstation that met our customer’s specifications within a very short timeframe. Their sales manager, John O’Kelly, visited the customer’s site and made note of their requirements and specifications.” The workstation was designed to look cleaner and more organized and is aesthetically appealing to visitors.

Cosgrove utilized CAD drawings and periodically solicited feedback from the customer. Production Basics pre-assembled the workstations prior to shipping them to Progressive Handling Systems, enabling the distributor’s personnel to handle delivery and final assembly, which simplified the sale for all parties involved. The sale was done in several shipments to minimize end-user inconvenience. Cosgrove calls this sale “a true partnership.”

Warner Specialty Products Soars

Summary: Continual testing and site visits assure product meets customer requirements.
Distributor: Warner Specialty Products Inc.
Manufacturer: Ergotech Inc.

A commercial helicopter manufacturer’s employees were experiencing an increased number of injuries while manually moving very large fixtures. Bill Warner, president of Warner Specialty Products (Cheshire, CT), says, “Even though the skins on these helicopters are very light, weighing less than 50 pounds, just the size of them caused some major issues.”

Warner Specialty Products provided Ergotech’s Ergo Control three-axis programmable work positioner and then attached an aluminum fixture which would hold materials of various sizes. An electric eye installed on the machine prevents the costly parts from falling on the ground and potentially crushing a worker’s foot. According to Warner, “Some of the parts are 10 feet long by 5 feet wide. Some are flat, some are curved. It’s the actual outside of a helicopter.” The fixture holds multiple sizes, thus requiring only one operator.

Ergotech’s work positioner

Ergotech’s work positioner reduced employee injuries while moving large fixtures.

Warner had to meet the customer’s rigid requirements: no metal on metal, every other clamp had to have special rubber clamps and had to be machined. A lot of testing took place, along with many visits from the customer.

The $20,000 project, completed last summer, enabled Warner’s customer to reduce the time required to handle the materials and will prevent numerous work-related injuries.

Container Systems Delivers in No Time

Summary: Test lane with end-user’s materials focuses decision.
Distributor: Container Systems Inc.
Manufacturer: Mallard Manufacturing Corp.

Indicative of the times, when customers take longer to make decisions, Gino Pupillo, sales representative at Container Systems Inc. (Westmont, IL), spent six months with a supplier to the automotive industry going over alternatives for in-house raw material and finished-goods storage. The project involved 45 lanes of gravity flow, full roller conveyor equipment and selective storage racks. The customer reviewed various options and, also indicative of the times, was focused on price.

A flow lane set up at Mallard’s facility tested the end-user’s materials.

A flow lane set up at Mallard’s facility tested the end-user’s materials.

Within two weeks of hearing the customer’s specifications, Mallard Manufacturing’s Engineering Manager Scott Garriott and Engineering Draftsman Stan Logan designed a solution, which was demonstrated in the Mallard Manufacturing facility, utilizing a sampling of materials provided by the end-user. Three weeks later, the installation was complete.

According to Pupillo, “The lanes were 4 to 6 containers deep, and 16 and 23 feet long. We set up a test utilizing 12 samples of each pallet, which allowed us to test flow with various loading and stacking conditions.”

The $85,000 sale is providing additional new opportunities for Container Systems. According to Pupillo, “The customer now wants to add additional lanes and a sister facility is interested in an installation.”

Dougherty Equipment Company Gets the Gravy

Pallet jacks can be pallet jacks,” says Ken Moore, customer service rep at Dougherty Equipment Company (Charleston, SC). “Everyone has one and they all do the same thing.” Yeah, right. Not if you’re Knorr Foods and you have 4-feet wide aisles in your warehouse, and you need to move things around, and there is a lot of equipment blocking the way.

Summary: Knowledge of product provides perfect solution.
Distributor: Dougherty Equipment Company
Manufacturer: Mobile Pallet Truck

On a prior visit to Knorr, Moore left a flyer about a pallet jack from Mobile Pallet Truck he has been selling like hot cakes for over a year. Mobile’s sales team, led by President Steve Guagliano, have been visiting distributors with product training and marketing techniques. Moore was paying attention when they visited DEC.

When the warehouse manager at Knorr needed a solution, he contacted Moore. The small, confined spaces in Knorr’s Asheboro, North Carolina, warehouse prevented the standard 27 x 48 pallet jack from turning easily. Moore knew, though, that Mobile could provide a smaller pallet jack. The ECO 155, ordered in a size of 18 x 38, fixed the problem for Knorr. The jack could also be let down by foot or by hand. Knorr liked the option for its tight spaces, and liked the price. Says Moore, “It fixed their problem, they use them, and they love them.” So much for generic pallet jacks.

Storage Solutions Proves Cheaper Isn’t Better

A MHEDA distributor in Tennessee has proven that it is good business to stay in touch with a customer, even after losing a sale to a lower priced competitor. An automotive parts manufacturer had purchased several lanes of product from the distributor last year. Inexplicably, the customer next purchased a lower priced product from a competitor. Michael Gunderson, vice president/general manager of Mallard Manufacturing, says, “The distributor stayed in touch with his customer. He was aware of the competitive product’s poor performance and the customer’s dissatisfaction.”

Summary: Staying in touch with the customer, even when they leave to go to a competitor, pays off.
Distributor: Tennessee Distributor
Manufacturer: Mallard Manufacturing Corp.

When the customer went shopping again, he turned to Mallard’s distributor who has quite a bit of experience with pallet flow racks through a relationship with Mallard, and it has paid off. While the warehouse was not a new facility, this was the first pallet flow project in this particular plant.

In July, the installation of a gravity flow roller conveyor system was completed. By using full-width rollers and 2-inch roller spacing with 1.9 inch rollers, a variety of pallets can be flowed.

The $50,000 project, which also included 21 lines of rack, 21 feet deep, is the distributor’s second for this particular customer. Rest assured, it won’t be the last. This customer has learned that quality cannot be undersold.

Mallard’s 21-feet deep pallet flow racks increase space utilization.

Mallard’s 21-feet deep pallet flow racks increase space utilization.

Customer’s Bring-It-On Challenge to K-Lift

A leading door manufacturer was looking for an inexpensive light-duty lift to transport finished door products from one work station to another. The unit had to be smooth-running and able to creep due to an unstable load (doors were positioned cross-wise across the forks). The frustrated prospect had seen several product demonstrations and was disappointed in each instance. When Richard Kowalski, vice president of K-Lift Material Handling Equipment Co. (Kalamazoo, MI), visited the customer’s site, he immediately understood the prospect’s complaint.

Summary: Knowing the application challenges and what your product can do results in a confident sale.
Distributor: K-Lift Material Handling Equipment Co.
Manufacturer: Multiton MIC Corporation

Kowalski says, “They were looking for a walk behind electric pallet truck. They stacked doors flat on a pallet, and as they were moved through the manufacturing process, other previously finished products took off so quickly that the product would immediately fall off the pallet.”

Kowalski, working with Multiton MIC’s Jerry Plum, east coast regional sales manager, and Angie Hoover, customer service manager, knew that the Multiton MIC Model EM30 was the answer. Kowalski explains, “The creep button operates the machine with a handle in the upright position, allowing the machine to move in tight areas. The AC-motor enables a smooth acceleration between speeds.” When the customer asked for a demonstration, stating, “The proof is in the pudding,” Kowalski immediately shipped the 3,000 pound light-duty electric pallet truck to the customer’s site.

The demonstration was a success and resulted in a $12,000 sale of two lifts in July 2003.

Integrated Storage Solutions Nets Speedy Sale

Sometimes the challenge of a sale lies not in its size, but in the mid-project changes required by the customer. As an office product distributor’s facility neared completion, the customer realized a need to protect his order pickers from the risk of falling product. According to Ed Richardson, president of Integrated Storage Solutions (Roswell, GA), “Time was an important consideration.”

Summary: Rack netting delivered on short notice satisfies customer with no additional mobilization costs.
Distributor: Integrated Storage Solutions Inc.
Manufacturer: International Cordage East

Brian Stevenson, vice president of the material handling division at International Cordage East, provided a 9,000 sq. ft. rack netting protection system, resulting in no additional mobilization costs, despite the late order date.

Says Richardson, “We were able to demonstrate our company’s knowledge and experience in delivering a solution on short notice. And our customer benefited by having additional safety measures in place.” The $8,000 system was on-site within two weeks, not only making the deadline, but beating it.

Alta Dumps it for Dow

Summary: Team effort comes up with unique solution for unique application.
Distributor: Alta Lift Truck Services Inc.
Manufacturer: Manitou, Cascade Corporation

When Steve Greenawalt, president of Alta Lift Truck Services (Wixom, MI), went to Dow Chemical, he was prepared for anything. Dow had a problem. The waste created at its facility had to be hauled away to a dump. But it was taking too long. Greenawalt thought a truck-mounted forklift with a sideshifter and a fork positioner on the front would make things more efficient. This was a somewhat unusual request, for a unique application.

Working together, Greenawalt, Cascade’s Paul South and Manitou’s Kirk Zander, midwest regional manager, determined that a TMT 320 truck-mounted forklift would fit the bill. The team wanted to keep the overall weight of the unit down, so more waste could be put in back of the semi. A sideshifter and the fork positioner on the front accomplished this and met all of the customer’s expectations. Greenawalt says it was the first application he’s done of this nature. “We are at the mercy of the attachment manufacturer,” he says, “and Cascade came through for us by designing and adapting the attachment.” It took two months from design to delivery.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association

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